I'm 32 & This Is How Much I Spent On A Trip To London For A Friend's Wedding

Photo: Frankie Angel/Alamy Stock Photo.
Welcome to Travel Diaries, a Refinery29 series where we tag along as real women embark on trips around the world and track their travel expenses down to the last cent. Here, we offer a detailed, intimate account of when, where, and how our peers spend their vacation days and disposable income: all the meals, adventures, indulgences, setbacks, and surprises.
This week's travel diary: A 32-year-old freelance web developer spends 12 days in London reliving her grad school years, catching up with friends, and attending a wedding.
For questions, feedback, or if you're interested in tracking your travel expenses during an upcoming trip email us at traveldiary@refinery29.com.
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Age: 32
Occupation: Web Developer
Salary: $58,560
Annual Number Of Vacation Days: 15 + 5 rollover
Hometown: Philadelphia, PA
Trip Location: London, UK
Trip Length: 11 Days
Transportation
Costs: Flights were $452.83 + $84 for seat assignments for my flights to London. I’m flying from Newark to Toronto and then Toronto to London Heathrow. My return flight is direct from Heathrow to Newark.
When did you book? Do you think you got a good deal?
I booked in January. I think the base price is excellent, but it is such a basic flight, I don’t know if it was a good deal. It did not include the ability to select my own seat for free or for any checked baggage, so I packed everything into a carry-on.
Total: $536.83
Accommodations
Costs: For the first three nights, my friends and I had an Airbnb in Vauxhall. My share was $216.46. For the next five nights, I stayed with some friends at their flat in Camberwell. I stayed in a hotel on the night of the wedding for $73.98, and at another hotel near Heathrow before my flight home for $75.96.
Total: $366.40
Miscellaneous pre–vacation:
- Additional charger for my laptop + British plug: $124.02
- Travel skincare set from Innisfree : $15
Total: $139.02
Miscellaneous post–vacation spending:
- International data for my phone: $115
- Boarding two cats at the vet: $325
- Parking: $115
Total: $555

Day One

5:30 a.m. – Wake up. I’ve been tossing and turning since 2:00 a.m., so I decide just to get up. I read the “What a Day” newsletter from the previous evening while the news is on in the background.
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6:30 a.m. – I get out of bed, feed my cats, and then start the arduous process of straightening my hair… an hour later I look like Ariel! I bask in my straight hair glory (I only straighten it a few times a year) before going downstairs to eat some cereal, clean the house a bit, and gather the little things I need to put in my carry on bag. I swear I’m taking a million cords on this trip. I cuddle with my kitties a bit because I’m going to miss them dearly on this trip.
9:00 a.m. – I get the kitties into their carriers and drive down to the vet. One of my cats got very sick last year and nearly died, so I’m more comfortable with leaving them at the vet rather than having a friend check in on them. Our vet is amazing and her staff love when my cats stay there. I stop by Dunkin’ on my way home and pick up an iced latte. I have a free drink reward that will expire while I’m gone, so I use that for my drink.
10:00 a.m. – I get all of my stuff in my car, make sure all the trash is taken out, and head off. I’m running about 10 minutes behind schedule, but I’m hoping I can make up for it on the drive. I call my mum and we talk as I make my way to the New Jersey Turnpike.
11:25 a.m. – I get to MetroPark but drive around looking for a spot for so long I miss the train I wanted to take. I finally find a spot, get my stuff out of the car, and schlep down to the waiting room. I buy my ticket to Newark and use the restroom. $12
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12:15 p.m. – I catch the next train and make it to the airport. The security line is very short so I make it through very quickly! I. Am. Starving. I stop at the Boar’s Head Deli counter for a turkey sandwich and a kombucha. My flight has been delayed by an hour, but I’m not too concerned. They offer to check rolling luggage to our final destinations for free, and I quickly take them up on this offer. $15.18
5:00 p.m. – We land in Toronto and I only have about 45 minutes until my next flight starts boarding. Nothing in the food court looks like it would sit well in my stomach and they’ll feed me on the plane, so I decide to buy some snacks. I grab a liter of fizzy water, a bag of potato chips, and a bag of popcorn. This flight is on time, so I board the plane quickly and settle in. They feed us chicken and veggies, potato salad, and a brownie, which are all surprisingly good. I also eat an RXbar I brought with me. I watch Mary Poppins Returns until I am very sleepy. $7
Daily Total: $34.18

Day Two

6:50 a.m. – I make it through passport control and baggage claim in record time! This never happens at Heathrow! The rest of my flight was good – I was able to sleep for about 2.5 hours, which is definitely helping me feel more awake. I head to the restroom and clean up a bit. Thank goodness for micellar water and deodorant. I also put on some makeup and change into a dress over my black leggings.
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7:15 a.m. – I have some time before I need to be in central London to meet friends, so I decide to get a few things done. I head to the departures floor and find the United counter. I ask about booking a seat assignment ahead of my flight in two weeks and the lady is so helpful! She gives me a window seat assignment that’s “normal” A.K.A. doesn’t cost me any money! I’m so grateful! Next, I stop into Boots (a drugstore) and pick up a travel size hairbrush and some hand sanitizer ($8.22), and then head of to Caffè Nero for an iced coffee and fizzy water for the tube ride ($6.25). I sit at the café for a while and charge my devices while I read The Hand That First Held Mine by Maggie O’Farrell on my Kindle. $14.47
8:30 a.m. – I pack up and head down to the tube station to travel into central London. I was pleasantly surprised to discover the Oyster card I brought from home had over 9 quid on it, but I top it up with a tenner anyways. $13.70
10 a.m. – I make it to Bank Station and walk down to St. Edmund’s Church for Good Friday service. I lived in London for 3 years – 1 year for grad school and 2 years working. In that time I made a lot of close friends I keep in relative touch with, many of whom are from the church I attended. I’m excited to come to their Good Friday service and see everyone!
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10:30 a.m. – The service starts and I am sooooo tired! Praying seems risky – I’m afraid my eyes won’t open.
12:00 p.m. – Service is done, and I’m headed off with some friends, including the bride, M. I’m here to celebrate! We head over to her fiancé’s flat to find some lunch. I haven’t met her fiancé, B, yet, so I’m looking forward to it! His flat is right by the Battersea Power Station and he and I bond over our deep abiding love for public transportation, namely London buses and travelling by train. We get an assortment of hand pies from a stall and M. pays. I eat a Thai green curry hand pie and a butternut squash and cheddar pie.
2:30 p.m. – My friends S and N visiting from Zurich are here! They made it to Vauxhall ahead of me and are hungry, so I direct them to Nando’s. I grab a bus and meet them over there with my bags. I’m so excited to see them! We walk down to our Airbnb and drop our stuff off. We talk a bit about plans for the afternoon and decide to run to the grocery store to make sure we have essentials for breakfasts for the next few days.
3:15 p.m. – We head over to Sainsbury’s and as we’re walking through, we split things into our baskets. My friends get bacon, eggs, sausages, and some beers. I buy a big tub of yogurt, granola, blueberries, a loaf of sliced bread, a can of Heinz baked beans, two bottles of cider, a small bottle of gin, and a six pack of fizzy water (to feed my addiction). $18.75
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5:30 p.m. – After lounging a bit, I decide I’m going to fall asleep if we don’t walk somewhere (my goal is to stay up until 9:00 p.m.). So we organize ourselves and head out for a walk to Westminster. We walk along the south side of the river, with a quick detour to see the Vauxhall City Farm, and pass the MI 6 building, Lambeth Palace, and St. Thomas Hospital, where Florence Nightingale established her nursing school. We cross over Westminster Bridge and discuss whether the Palace of Westminster is Neo Classical or High Gothic. Fun fact – it’s neither. It’s Neo Gothic. There are protests going on in different parts of the city by the Extinction Rebellion and they basically have all the streets around Parliament closed, but it’s not crowded or rowdy. It’s kind of nice to be able to walk in the middle of the street.
7:00 p.m. – We decide we’re super hungry, and my friend L had recommended Bar Shu for Sichuan Chinese food. It’s all the way in Chinatown, but in my mind, that’s not too far to walk on a lovely evening. The crowds on Charing Cross Road are annoying but we eventually make it to the restaurant and they seat us in the basement. The food is incredible. We order mapo tofu, two orders of dan dan noodles, and a beef soup with a deliciously spicy broth. The bill is surprisingly affordable and my friends cover it as a thanks for planning the trip!
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8:30 p.m. – On our way out of the restaurant we decide we need ice cream. I’m positive there will be a novel ice cream shop in Chinatown, so we head down Wardour St. We do see such a place but the line is insane. We find another shop a little ways down that does green tea ice cream and I’m sold. We eat our ice creams as we make the long walk back to Vauxhall. $4.11
10:00 p.m. – We make it back to our flat and I’m beat. I get ready for bed and fall asleep as soon as my head hits the pillow.
Daily Total: $51.03

Day Three

7:00 a.m.– Wake up and scroll through Instagram and check email for a bit. I get out of bed around 7:30 when I hear my friends stirring. We make ourselves a proper English fry-up this morning with bacon rashers, pork and apple sausages, and toast with baked beans. Brits do breakfast right.
10:00 a.m. – We’re getting a slightly later start than we hoped, but we are headed to the Churchill Cabinet War Rooms this morning. We stop at Vauxhall Station first to sort out Oyster cards. My friends get Oyster cards and put some money on them, and I buy a 1 week travel card on mine. I wouldn’t always recommend this, especially if you’re staying centrally enough to walk a lot of places, but after my friends leave, I will be staying in a less central place and will be taking multiple buses to get where I need to go. Once our transport is sorted, we get on a bus towards Westminster. Due to the protests, it doesn’t take us all the way there, but it does cut 15-ish minutes out of our journey. $45
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10:45 a.m. – We’re in the museum! I’ve never been to this museum before and it is absolutely fascinating. They’ve left all the rooms as they were during the war, and they have a whole section devoted to the life of Winston Churchill. I knew a good bit about Churchill before, but this really goes into detail his record of service to his country. I also especially liked all the attention they paid to his painting hobby. It’s easy to picture what it would have been like to see people bustling around these rooms. $30.14
12:15 p.m. – We leave the museum and head to get some lunch. N ducked out a little early to meet a friend from college who lives in the area, so S and I take advantage of some girl time. We stop at a Pret a Manger to pick up food – I get a Chicken, Avocado, and Basil sandwich, some Cheddar and Onion chips, and a fizzy water. We take our goods to St. James’s park to enjoy the sunshine! After we finish our lunch, we stroll through the park and make our way to Buckingham Palace. We stay just long enough to snap some pics and then make our way back towards Trafalgar Square. $6.85
2:30 p.m. – We get a text from N asking if we want to meet up soon. I have to run a couple of errands before we meet up, but suggest that we meet at the Royal Festival Hall, because of their free, mostly clean toilets. Our first stop is Boots, because I realize I’ve forgotten to pack my sunscreen and boy do I need it in this sun! I pick up the La Roche Posay Ultra Light Sunscreen, because S tells me it is really nice on her skin. The price at Boots is half of what she pays for it in Zurich. I also pick up a travel bottle of shaving gel. $20.55
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2:45p.m. – Next we head over to a currency exchange (Thomas Exchange Global – good rates & no fees!) at Charing Cross. I was hoping that the exchange rate would be better when I got here, but I probably should’ve just used my bank at home. I got 100 gbp out of my bank at home, plus $300 to exchange when I got here. I exchange it now and it comes out to roughly 220 gbp. We walk over the Jubilee Bridge to the Royal Festival Hall and wait for N and his friend. When they reach us, it turns out they did exactly the same thing we did – a picnic in St. James’s park and a walk to Buckingham Palace! Great minds! We decide to head back to our flat and grab our beers and have a picnic in the park.
3:30p.m. – We stop in the Sainsbury’s Local (a mini grocery store) along the way to pick up some snacks for our picnic. I get a bag of sea salt and apple cider vinegar chips, a box of flapjack bites (flapjacks are a type of oat bar), and a bottle of tonic in case I want to drink my gin. S buys ice cream bars, some cheddar and onion chips, a beer, and a pack of hot cross buns, as tomorrow is Easter. We head to the flat, pack a bag with the beers and cider, some glasses, and our snacks, and head to the park! $11
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7:00 p.m. – We’ve been resting for a bit and watching Youtube videos on the flat’s TV so we decide to order in some Indian food. There’s a restaurant we find on google maps called Hot Stuff and their website has a hot wheels–esque logo. I’m sold. We get two orders of Chicken Tikka Masala, a Chicken Jalfrezi, two orders of naan, and a large rice. It was $54 for all the food plus tip, and my portion is $17.81. We spend the rest of the evening watching old SNL clips and eating ourselves into a food coma. $17.81
Daily Total: $131.35

Day Four

7:30a.m. – I get up when I hear N in the kitchen. We make a breakfast out of yesterday’s leftovers and I have a sausage and a slice of bacon with the rest of the baked beans. It’s basically perfect. We get ready and make our way to the bus stop to head into the city. I stop at a bodega to get a bottle of fizzy water (I’ve already finished that six pack, lol) I’m excited for S and N to ride on the top of a double decker bus – they’re one of my favorite things about London. They’re so affordable and can take you anywhere you need to go. They also run very frequently, especially in comparison to Philadelphia’s bus system. $1
10:30a.m. – We get off at Bank Station and walk around for a bit. We see the Bank of England and the Chancellor of the Exchequer buildings, St. Mary-le-Bow church, and walk past St. Paul’s. Fun fact: To be considered Cockney, you have to have been born within earshot of the St Mary-le-Bow church bells. Then we make our way down to the church I attended when I lived here for their morning service. We run into the Pastor and his wife, and it’s nice to catch up with them for a minute. We make our way into service and get good seats near the front.
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12:15p.m. – The service was really good! But we’re antsy to continue our sight seeing, so we head out. We walk over the Millenium Bridge, and make our way along the south bank. We stop at Francis Drake’s ship, Borough Market, the HMS Belfast, the Mayor’s office, and Tower Bridge before heading back to London Bridge Station to head home.
2:00p.m. – We have a 2:30 reservation for Sunday Roast at my favorite pub near our Airbnb – the Fentiman Arms. We enjoy delicious beer, and each get a different roast. I’m team Pork Roast always, and particularly appreciate the crispy pork skins. We also all love our Yorkshire Puddings, which is an interesting bread that traditionally comes with roasts. It’s light and good at sopping up gravy. We head back to the flat after to rest. $41.10
6:30p.m. – Now that I’ve woken up from my post-roast nap, we’re deciding what to do this evening. We watched an episode of Heston Blumenthal’s show where he reimagined fish and chips, and it gave us all a hankering for some fried food. We walk to the bus stop in Oval and take a bus to the Aldwych. We walk around Covent Garden for a bit and pop into Whittard Tea Shop so that S can get some British tea to take home. She picks out some English Breakfast and Earl Gray, and N gets some interesting coffees for his parents. I pick up a container of their Dreamtime powder tea, which is a special treat! $9.59
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8:00p.m. – Then we head to the fish and chip shop Heston visited on the show – Rock & Sole Plaice. I’ve eaten here before, and it’s really fantastic. They have outdoor seating and the food is extremely high quality. N gets cod, and S and I split an order of the haddock. It is so light and the batter is perfect. We have our fries with malt vinegar and salt and they’re fantastic. We make our way back to the bus and back home. $16.44
10p.m.– We’re all exhausted when we get back so we head to bed.
Daily Total: $31.13

Day Five

7:30 a.m. – I’m up and in the kitchen. We have to use up the rest of our food this morning, so N makes us eggs, bacon, and sausage, and I have a hot cross bun, since I forgot to eat one yesterday. We pack up our stuff and head to the tube station. We don’t have to be out of our Airbnb until late afternoon, but S and N will need to head out as soon as we get back this afternoon so they make sure their bags are ready to go. On our way to the tube, I stop in a bodega and buy a 1.5 liter bottle of fizzy water. $1.37
10:30a.m. – We get off at Bank station and walk to the Tower of London. This is my 5th time visiting the Tower and it’s by far my favorite touristy thing to do in London. We buy our tickets and head in for the tour. Yeoman tours are included in the ticket, and they’re wonderful. To be a Yeoman (or in the case of ours, a Yeo-woman) the officer had to serve 22 years in the armed forces and have reached the rank of warrant officer. They are great storytellers and the history of the tower is fascinating. After our tour, we walk through the White Tower, which is beautiful and contains lots of armour, swords, and other military paraphernalia. We happen to be at the tower for the 62 fire salute for the Queen’s birthday. The cannons are very loud! $37.88
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1:15p.m.– We’re getting hangry, so we stop by a Pret on our way back to bank station to pick up some lunch. I get a chicken and bacon baguette with salt and vinegar chips. $6.25
2:00p.m .– We make it back to the flat. S & N grab their bags, say goodbye, and head off to the airport. After they leave, I make sure the flat is clean, take the garbage out, and finish packing my stuff. Then I head out to Starbucks to get some freelance work done. I get an iced matcha latte to help me focus. $5.25
5:00p.m. – I’m staying with my friends L & N during the week, and they pick me up in their car on their way home from their weekend in Bristol. I’m so grateful! We drop bags off at their flat and then load back into the car to go to the grocery store. We decide we’re going to make sushi for dinner. I buy 2 packs of smoked salmon, 2 packs of crab sticks, some clementines, bananas, blueberries, yogurt, and an eight pack of fizzy water. $25.68
6:00 p.m – We get back and get the rice cooker going. We chat for a while and catch up while the rice is cooking, then get started making sushi. It’s an interesting combination L has concocted – smoked salmon, crab stick, spinach, carrot, and cream cheese. She didn’t have wasabi at home like she thought, so N improvises by putting some English mustard in soy sauce. It’s actually not bad.
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10:00 p.m. – After chatting some more, I head off to my room do some more freelance work. The consultancy I work with has two sites going live soon, so it’s all hands on deck to get the sites reviewed, meta copy written and in the site, and any text changes made. But by 11pm it’s lights out for me!
Daily Total: $76.43

Day Six

7:00 a.m .– I wake up and have a very chill morning. I lay in bed watching Insta Stories and YouTube for a bit and then read my book.
9:30a.m .– I get up and eat some breakfast – yogurt with blueberries. After I wash my bowl, I get in the shower. My skin feels so dry, so I make sure to slather on the heavier cream I brought with me. Innisfree gives deluxe size samples to rewards members, and the nourishing honey cream is always a good choice to take on trips. It really saves my skin. Then I put on sunscreen and my makeup, and get dressed for the day. I pack my bag and I’m out the door by 10:30. I’m off to help my friend, M with wedding prep!
11:30 a.m. – I get off the bus near M’s fiancé’s flat and walk to a cafe in his building. I get an iced Americano and pull out my laptop to get a little work done before M gets there. $4.11
12:30 p.m. – I head upstairs to the flat, and find out I’m here to help M create the backdrop for the photo booth. On Friday, she and some friends made paper flowers and now we will be affixing them to some netting, which will hang on a clothes rack behind a couch. It’s beautiful, but feels very time consuming. It turns out to be a lovely way to spend an afternoon, though! The groom’s mum and PA are there to help and we just have a lovely time chatting. They offer me some garden veggie soup from the fridge, which I gladly accept, as well as an apple – much needed after the heavy meals from the weekend.
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4:30 p.m. – I say goodbye to the ladies and walk over the bridge to Sloane Square to find a café that will be open after 5. I find an EAT, pick up a half chicken salad wrap, some chips, and a fizzy water, and settle in to do some work on their free Wi-Fi. $6.10
6:30 p.m. – Work was very productive! I finally feel like I’m at a spot where all the work is with other people. I pack up and head a few doors down to Muji. I LOVE Muji pens, and they make erasable ones with a very fine point that they don’t sell in the US for some reason. I pick up 4 colors. Afterwards I catch the bus (the #137 – arguably the best route in London) back to Battersea to meet my friend E for dinner. $13.70
7:00 p.m. – I’m buzzed up to E’s flat, which is super posh. I meet his flatmate and we bond over our love of plants. This flat is the stuff of dreams – they have a balcony overlooking Battersea Park that they’ve decked out with an incredible amount of foliage. We drink a cuppa and then head out for dinner. We walk around the corner to Mother Pizza. I order a pizza with sausage and mushroom, and E orders the same. We catch up on life and commiserate a bit about the pros and cons of being single in our thirties. E treats for the pizza and we take a walk around Battersea Park, because I’ve never been! It’s a lovely park – lots of trees and it overlooks a nice bit of the river. E says he goes for walks there every evening. I’m jealous. After our walk, we say goodbye and I head off to my bus home. I finish The Hand That First Held Mine on the bus. It was a gut wrenching ending – highly recommend.
10:00 p.m. – I make it home and my hosts are not here yet. I wash my face and put on more of the honey cream. My face has been literally itchy today – it’s no fun. L & N get home about 10 minutes later and I chat with them for a while before turning in for the night.
Daily Total: $23.91

Day Seven

8:00 a.m. – I slept a little later than usual today! I think the cooler temperatures outside are helping with that. I lay in bed for a bit and scroll Insta and watch YouTube. I decide that today’s going to be an exercise/shopping day.
9:30a.m. – I get up and do a quick arm workout. I brought a couple of resistance bands with me and they turn out to be pretty challenging! Next I head out on a walk. My friends live near a decent-sized park, so I head there and walk for about 45 minutes while listening to Saturday’s Lovett or Leave It episode (#friendofthepod). At the end of my walk I head over to the park’s cafe and pick up a flat white. I sit in the garden outside the cafe for a bit and drink my coffee, before heading back to the flat to shower and wash my hair. $3.50
12:30 p.m. – I’m very hungry, so I eat the leftovers of last night’s pizza cold, and then follow that up with some greek yogurt, blueberries, and granola. I plan out what I want to buy for the day, where I need to go, and roughly how I want to get from place to place. I also eat a banana before leaving the house.
1:15 p.m.– I catch a bus and then the tube up to Angel Station. Fun fact: Angel Tube Station has the longest escalator in the London Underground system. I emerge and head to Camden Passage, where sits a delightful yarn store called Loop. When I lived in London, I spent a lot of time at Loop and whenever I come back I always stop in to pick up a yarn souvenir. This time I pick up a lovely skein of yarn from a french dyer. It’s a hot pink/black blend, it’s an incredibly soft merino, and I fully intend to knit something to keep me warm with it. Maybe a cowl… or fingerless mitts. I’ll decide later. I also pick up some cedar wood blocks with their label embossed on them because I noticed my suitcase smelled this morning. They put my goods in a free tote bag that is super cute! $45.21
2:15 p.m. – Before I leave the area, I stop at the Waitrose to pick up a bottle of fizzy water and a can of kombucha. I walk from Angel Station to Liberty of London. This is a rather long walk through Clerkenwell, Russell Square, Fitzrovia, and down into the Regent Street/Carnaby Street area. It takes me about 45 minutes and I listen to an episode of Pod Save America along the way. $4.11
3:00 p.m. – When I get to Liberty of London, I make a beeline for the bathrooms. Their bathrooms are very nice, non-gendered, and well maintained. The major department stores in London all have nice bathrooms. I walk up to the 3rd floor and browse the Haberdashery section. I knit, sew, and embroider in my spare time and Liberty is famous for their fabrics. I’d love just 1-2 fat quarters, but they only come in a minimum set of 5 and it’s more than I want to pay right now. So after browsing housewares and a bit of the women’s clothing, I head down to the stationery section. Liberty of London’s fabric-bound journals are one of my London indulgences – whenever I’m here I have to buy a journal. But the last time I was in town they weren’t selling them. I’m thrilled they are again, so I buy two. $68
3:45p.m. – Next I walk down to the Boots on Carnaby Street and pick up another bottle of sun lotion (I really like the one I bought before!), some acne spot treatment, a sheet mask, some hand cream, and a small pack of tissues. $30
4:00 p.m. – Lastly, I walk over to Foyles bookshop. Foyles is a long-standing independent bookstore that was like my second home in grad school. I head up the lift to the 5th floor to get a snack in the cafe. I get a huge blueberry and pistachio sticky bun and a sparkling elderflower soft drink. $8.22
4:30 p.m. – I take the lift down to the lower ground floor where they have lots of London–specific books. I read Londoners a few years ago and it was a truly incredible book. I think about buying an Iain Sinclair book, but decide it would be more prudent to get it on Kindle. I bought a Kindle earlier this year and have decided to borrow books from the library as much as possible. Next I head up to the 1st floor where they have their fiction books. I pick up a signed copy of The Overstory by Richard Powers. This one’s been on my book list for a bit, and I’m excited to get a signed copy. I browse around for a while and also find Where My Heart Used to Beat by Sebastian Faulks, whose book Birdsong is one of my favorite novels of all time. $24.63
5:00 p.m. – I walk over to pick up the 171 bus back to my friends’ flat. I had texted L earlier about dinner and she said they’re making noodles with ground pork and veggies and suggests I bring an appetizer. I get off the bus a couple stops early to pick up food from the Marks & Spencer food hall near their flat. I pick up a bag of spinach, a bag of cherry tomatoes, a ball of mozzarella cheese, and a bottle of balsamic vinegar for a caprese salad. It doesn’t go with the chinese dish, really, but something tells me we could all use some veggies. $8.22
6:45 p.m.– L & N get home and we start prepping dinner. I make the salad, N makes the ground pork and veggies, and L boils the noodles, which N’s mum brought back for them from Hong Kong. It is a delicious dinner and I’m a happy camper.
8:00 p.m. – L and I start baking a Japanese cheesecake. Some British weddings have a “sweets table” with cakes, and pies, and other desserts baked by family and friends. L has made this before for the bride and groom and they’ve specifically requested she make it for the wedding. It will be interesting to see how this goes! While the cake is in the oven, we play Camel Up, which is a game I’d never heard of where you bet on camel races. I lose the first round but make some bold moves in the second round to take a commanding lead. I’m definitely going to have to find this game back in the US.
10:00 p.m. – I do a quick skin care routine and apply the acne spot treatment I bought today. My skin is clearly stressed from travel and probably the dirtier air in London and I’m hoping this helps my new spots heal quickly. Then it’s reading for a bit (I just got my library loan of The Immortalists) before lights out.
Daily Total: $161.89

Day Eight

7:30 a.m. – I wake up and lay in bed for a bit watching YouTube. This is truly a luxury, because at home, my alarm goes off and I’m up and at it. I’m enjoying these lazy mornings. I read a little more of my book – it is different than I expected, but it’s good.
9:00 a.m.– I pull out my laptop and do a little work. It definitely wouldn’t be my first choice to work on vacation, but it is nice knowing I won’t be too off my normal freelance hours for the month.
10:45 a.m.– I get up and make myself a yogurt bowl with greek yogurt, blueberries, and granola, and also eat a banana. Then I hop in the shower and get ready for my day. I’m meeting my friend K in Greenwich for lunch and then we’ll travel to the wedding church rehearsal together. I look up what train I need to take to make it to Greenwich by 12:30 and realize I need to leave ASAP. Travel note: The Oyster card works for the London trains in addition to the Tube and buses!
12:10 p.m. – I get to London Bridge station to grab the train and I have a few minutes to spare, so I stop in Caffè Nero for an iced coffee and a fizzy water. Iced coffee is definitely a recent idea for Brits (who firmly love warm beverages), but I’m southern and firmly love drinks that are ice cold. I look over their iced coffee menu, though, and find an iced coffee that sounds truly disgusting – a shot of espresso in iced tonic water. Now… I love espresso. And I love all fizzy drinks, including tonic, but that sounds so wrong. Anyway, I get my iced coffee and water, and make it to the train 1 minute before it leaves. $4.50
12:30 p.m. – Off the train and meet up with K! He’s the best. We’ve been friends for a long time but only get to see each other every few years. We find a Vietnamese place to have some lunch and catch up. I order the crispy pork bahn mi, a matcha bubble tea, and share an order of the BBQ pork bao with K. K spends an hour telling me crazy stories about a girl he was seeing who dumped him, how he’s not going to church anymore, how he’s had a falling out with one of our mutual friends, and I’m starting to feel a little sad for him. $14.00
2:00 p.m .– The restaurant is getting packed so we decide to walk around Greenwich a bit. Five minutes into the walk, he confesses he was just pulling my leg before – he and the girl are together and he is clearly smitten, he’s been getting more involved at his church in Tanzania (where he spends roughly ⅓ of the year), and his relationship with our mutual friend is fine. I give him a smack on the arm and he tells me I always take his jokes so well. Men. We head to the chapel for the Royal Naval College and sit and chat some more so he can tell me about his new girl.
3:00 p.m. – We catch the DLR to the Jubilee line to find to the church for the rehearsal. We get off at Bond Street and after some wandering around (why do I let others navigate???) we find the church. It is so beautiful! It’s a Catholic church, with lots of stained glass, beautiful artwork, and a painted ceiling. It’s going to be really nice on Saturday. I’m not in the wedding, but my friend L is a bridesmaid and couldn’t make it to the rehearsal, so I’m her stand-in. K is doing a reading, so he practices walking up to the podium.
5:00 p.m. – Rehearsal is done and sorted but we could all use a drink… and maybe some food. We walk around and have a hard time finding a pub that will suit us – every pub we find has a sea of white men in suits outside drinking and smoking. The insides are also predictably crowded and as one of our friends is in a wheelchair, they are particularly inaccessible.
5:30 p.m. – We finally find a wine bar that is empty and very wheelchair accessible, so we make our way in. We debate wine for a while and decide on a bottle of Malbec and a carafe of Pinot Grigio (I take the Malbec). It’s delicious and we just have a great time catching up, chiding K for all of his bravado, and debating American politics.
6:30 p.m. – We ask for the waitress to bring us food menus. This place has an interesting menu… there’s a Polish section, and a Mexican section. Not a combination I would normally put together. We all order off of the Polish section, and I get a kielbasa platter, which comes with mashed potatoes, red cabbage, and sauerkraut. The rest of the table decides to get another bottle of red but I decide I’m going to go back to water. Our food is delicious, but everyone else really slows down on the drinking.
8:30 p.m. – The bride and groom leave to head home and there’s still a full glass of wine in the bottle. K pours it in his glass and we pay the bill. I put in my share. The waitress brings up complimentary cherry vodka shots. I take it and it tastes like the worst parts of cough syrup and vodka put together. $41.10
9:00 p.m. – I’m ready to go home, but K hasn’t finished his glass of wine. I tell him to hurry up and he sets a timer for 9:10. Every minute he takes big gulps, and then gulps down what remains at 9:10, and we’re off. Please note: This is not a strategy I recommend for drinking wine. I wanted to give the bottle to the table next to us.
10:00 p.m. – I walk in the door of my friends’ flat to find them staring at a second attempt at the Japanese cheesecake. Apparently, last night’s turned out very flat. This one looks better, but has a big crack in the top. She cuts it into slices because it’s a good contender for Saturday and that makes it look less bad. We chat for a bit, then it’s to bed for me!
Daily Total: $59.60

Day Nine

7:00 a.m. – I wake up and immediately grab my laptop and start working. Some emails came in overnight and I need to get multiple things off my plate so that I don’t have to worry about them over the weekend. Freelance work on a team is great in some ways and very frustrating in others. Namely, that I know people will forget I’m not working this weekend and will email me things to do. I make a plan in my head to turn off my email notifications during the wedding so I won’t stress about them.
10:00 a.m.– I get out of bed and grab some breakfast. I have some granola cereal leftover from the weekend with milk, a banana, and some blueberries. My hosts are both working from home today, too, so I try to keep quiet. I head back to my room and finish a little more work. I call a salon I saw across the park to see if they’ll wash and straighten my hair for me today. They have an appointment at 2 and I gladly take it!
11:00 a.m.– I get my workout clothes on and do another quick arm workout. Then I grab my headphones and my sneakers and go for another long walk around the park while listening to Wednesday’s “Keep It” episode. I always get weird looks when I go for walks and listen to this podcast because the hosts make me laugh out loud. Today is no different. At the end of my walk I stop for a latte and sit in the café for a bit to watch this morning’s Good Mythical Morning. I felt bad taking up precious internet bandwidth at the flat when my friends were trying to work. $3.50
12:30 p.m. – I get back to the flat and my friends are taking a lunch break and attempting cake #3. This time N is doing the majority of the baking… so we’ll see how this one turns out. I take about half an hour to start packing my suitcase. We’re leaving early tomorrow morning and I won’t be back at their flat again before I fly out. I grab a change of clothes and take a quick shower.
2:00 p.m. – I walk over to the salon and meet my stylist – I immediately love him. He’s from Italy and makes a lot of jokes about loving ginger hair and ginger men. He tells me all about growing up in Tuscany as he washes my hair. He blows it dry and starts straightening it with a flat iron. This process goes on for a long time as I’ve got a lot of hair…
4:00 p.m. – I finally get out of the chair and my hair is glorious! It’s as soft as a kitten! I pay him ($34.25) for the service and add on an extra 10 quid ($13.70) in tip since it took double the amount of time he had allotted. After putting on my jacket with the hood tightly fitted around my straight hair, I run across the street to a bodega and get a 1.5 liter bottle of fizzy water ($1.37) and then walk back to the flat through the park. As I’m scrolling through IG, I notice my former manager, J is also in London on vacation. I text him and see what he’s up to and we make a plan to maybe meet up on Sunday. $49.32
6:00 p.m. – K comes over and all four of us order Thai food take away. I get an order of Chicken Pad See Ewe. We watch a show on Netflix about street food in Thailand while we eat and it is fascinating! $13.70
7:45 p.m. – L and N leave to pick up flowers for the wedding tomorrow from the florist. We are bringing the table centerpieces with us in their car, and the florist is taking the flowers for the ceremony to the church. K stays back to hang with me. We watch an episode of Planet Earth, before finding a show called Cooking on High. It’s a show where actual chefs cook with weed products and serve it to “judges” who are already high. It’s definitely worth the 14 minutes of my evening. I don’t smoke, but I have always enjoyed having conversations with people when they’re high, so I found this show extremely entertaining. I make K and myself gin and tonics while we watch a second episode.
9:30 p.m. – K decides to head home even though L & N aren’t back yet. I wash my face, put on acne medicine, and lots of moisturizer. I finish packing up my bag, getting creative with where to put the 2–inch thick novel I bought at Foyles.
10:00 p.m. – L and N are finally home. They tell me about the struggle to get everything in their car and they even had to call another one of the bridesmaids to come get about ⅓ of the flowers and put them in her car. So stressful! L pulls today’s cheesecake effort out of the fridge… it’s perfect. She complains loudly how frustrating it is that her husband is so good at everything and I just chuckle. I say goodnight and head to bed.
Daily Total: $66.52

Day Ten

6:30 a.m. – I don’t have to be awake right now, but I am. I lay in bed and watch IG stories to try and wake up.
7:30 a.m. – I hear someone leave the bathroom, so I make my move! I brush my teeth, wash my face, and apply moisturizer. I change into something comfortable to run around in. Then, I pack everything I had kept out for this morning into my backpack and head out to the kitchen for breakfast. I eat cereal again, along with some blueberries and clementines.
8:15 a.m. – L and I start taking stuff down to the car. We use my suitcase and lots of bubble wrap to keep the centerpiece jars from clanking around in the “boot” (the trunk). Our dresses and N’s suit get hung up in the backseat and I continue to forget that the passenger’s side is on the left in the UK. We set off around 8:30 and the drive takes us through some beautiful parts of Southwest London.
9:40 a.m. – We arrive at the hotel next to the venue. N and I try to make ourselves useful by putting together some items that have been left until the last minute. It keeps us in the rooms with the bridesmaids and the family and allows us to have some extra time with the bride. L tells her about how N made the perfect cheesecake even though he’s never baked before, and they both jokingly complain that it’s annoying he’s so good at everything.
11:45 a.m. – I realize I’m cutting it a little close on time so I run out to the car to grab my dress, makeup, and purse for the wedding. I do my makeup quickly and get one of the bridesmaids to zip me into my dress. I’ve been working hard on getting healthy and losing a bit of weight over the last two years and honestly… this dress was a goal dress. I’m so thrilled it fits so well and I feel amazing in it! It’s emerald satin, one shouldered, and definitely shows off my curves while being appropriate. Before I run back out to the car, I snag a quick slice of pizza out of a cookie tin one of the bridesmaids brought. It’s a weird presentation, but a delicious snack to keep me going until the reception.
12:30 p.m. – N and I made it on the trolley to the service! The bride’s neighbors own two old-school London trolleys that they hire out for parties, weddings, etc. It is definitely quite a ride and we get a lot of admiring looks once we’re in central London.
1:40 p.m. – We make it to the church and say hi to friends. I have been put in charge of making sure the men have their boutonnieres, but there’s a problem. I assumed they would go to the groom and groomsmen, but there’s only a best man and I have 5 boutonnieres. I get confirmation the brothers of the bride and her father are getting them as well, so I start tracking people down. I meet the trolley with the bridal party right at 1:55 and pin a boutonniere to the father of the bride before running back into the church.
3:00p.m. – The service was absolutely lovely. K did a great job with his reading. I mingle with friends I haven’t seen in a long time before helping the bridesmaids gather the flowers from the ends of the pew and put them in a car. I say goodbye to my friend E since it will be the last time I see him before heading back to the US. I get back on the trolley and we head back to the reception venue.
4:15p.m. – We arrive at the venue parking lot and it is a long walk in the wind to get to the main entrance. The reception is being held in this conservatory/greenhouse from the nineteenth century. Everything is glass and it is so beautiful in the sun! I grab a glass of prosecco and my friends and I position ourselves well to greet the passed hors d’oeuvres. The beef tartare canapé is my favorites and I wish it were more than just one bite.
5:30 p.m. – It’s picture time! The bridesmaids and K are helping round up the various friends and family for the pictures and I mostly stay out of the way and drink my prosecco. When it’s time for our picture (we’re the “church friends” group) it makes me so happy to be in a picture with people who have meant so much to me over the years! Weddings are such a fun time to celebrate with friends.
6:30 p.m. – We sit down for dinner, at which point, I switch from prosecco to Fentiman’s rose lemonade. I’m at a table with mostly people I know from church but haven’t kept in great touch with. We catch up and talk about what everyone’s up to these days. I’m sitting next to the husband of an acquaintance and I’m pleasantly surprised to find out he’s as interested in American politics as I am. We chat about various issues going on in America, as well as the Democratic candidates. We agree that Elizabeth Warren is a BOSS and she’d make an awesome president. So, you know, not exactly normal wedding conversation, but I enjoyed it! The food is delicious. Our first course is a yummy mediterranean mezze platter with roasted vegetables, buffalo mozzarella, serrano ham, and olives. The main course is chicken with roasted vegetables with farro.
7:30 p.m. – Speeches start and we all magically have glasses of prosecco in our hands. Wow, the brother of the bride has had more than a bit to drink – his speech is long and somewhat hard to follow. The best man and the groom's speeches are short and sweet. The bride breaks tradition and gives a speech, which is long, but beautiful. I tear up when she talks about her mum and how thankful she is for her. I sip my prosecco throughout the speeches (probably not the best idea).
9:00 p.m. – Speeches are done and we walk over to a smaller room to see the bride and groom cut the cake. We sip our prosecco and wait for the cupcakes to become available.
10:00 p.m. – We head back to the main hall to dance the night away. Instead of stopping at the cake table, I make my way over to the gin bar. I order a Sipsmith gin with Mediterranean tonic and a lime. It’s good, but the glass is as big as my head, and is therefore hard to dance with. I end up setting it down halfway through the drink. It doesn’t really matter, though, as the band turns out to be terrible. They mostly play classic British rock, which is not exactly the fun, lifts-your-spirits, gets-you-on-the-dance-floor music you hope for at a wedding. They do a bad version of Uptown Funk, though, which at least gets me moving.
11:30 p.m. – I am really feeling all of the last 16 hours I’ve been awake. I sit down at a table with L, N, and K and there is a clear division of who is sober (L and me) and who is not (N and K). We are definitely ready to get to our hotel for the night. I got an email from a friend from my grad program, R, that she’s booked us a table at a Côte in Richmond at 11 a.m. tomorrow. I respond and tell her that’s perfect! I’m very excited to see her!
12:15 a.m. – The bride and groom make their exit (apparently it’s traditional to do a human exit tunnel? It felt weird). The four of us grab our stuff and head out for the car. It’s freezing and windy, and sprinkling a little. I’m pretty miserable. L has stayed sober the whole night and therefore is driving us to the hotel. Here’s the thing: L almost never drives. I’m in the back seat, awake, as N coaches her through a 10 minute drive to the guesthouse where we’re staying. It’s a real throwback to my high school days. K is asleep the whole time.
12:30 a.m. – We check into the guesthouse and head up to our rooms. I prepaid for my room at booking but didn’t pay for breakfast. There’s no shower in my room, just a small bathroom with a toilet and sink, and I can’t be bothered to find the hall shower. I take off my makeup, brush my teeth, and crawl into bed. I’m exhausted but my mind is still going, so I put on an episode of Gilmore Girls to fall asleep to.
Daily Total: $0

Day Eleven

6:30 a.m. – Why am I awaaaake. I am so tired. I don’t drink much back in the states because I drive a lot, but also because it definitely affects my sleep. I can get to sleep fine, but after about 5 hours, I start waking up a lot. Those 3 glasses of prosecco and gin and tonic did me no favors in the sleep department. I feel like I barely slept at all, but I’m not able to turn my mind off to go back to sleep. I watch some YouTube videos while rolling around in bed.
7:30 a.m. – K texts that he’s awake too and suggests we meet in the lobby for breakfast at 8. I get up and wash my face, take a sink shower, brush my teeth, and put on a little makeup. I get dressed and meet K outside my room. We head downstairs and meet L and N. I pay for breakfast at the desk and start piling my plate with bacon, sausages, hash browns, and baked beans. Honestly, this breakfast serves me well. I make a big mug of terrible instant coffee and choke it down. We chat for a while rehashing the wedding, who we were glad to see, who hit the gin bar too hard, etc. $8.22
9:00 a.m. – The breakfast room starts to get a little crowded, so we head back to the sunroom off the back of the house. L and N ask K more about his girlfriend in Tanzania and what life is like there. I take a quick break to check in at the desk and ask if I can leave my bag there while I go for brunch with my friend. My hotel for tonight is a twenty minute bus ride from this guesthouse, but brunch is half an hour in the opposite direction. They’re cool with it.
10:00 a.m. – I tell the crew it’s probably time for us to check out. K and I head upstairs and grab our bags. He helps me carry mine down as it’s pretty heavy. I check out of the hotel and put my bag behind their desk. I hug L and N and K and tell them all how nice it was to spend time with them this week. They are just the best and I’m always sad to leave them.
10:20 a.m. – I head out of the guesthouse and walk to a bus that will take me to Richmond. I get on the bus at the first stop and it progressively gets super full. I listen to an episode of “Pod Save America” along the ride.
11:00 a.m. – I greet my friend R at Côte and meet her little 1 year old boy! He’s so cute, but very, very unimpressed with me. That’s okay, I always win them over in the end. Her husband is parking the car so we have a little time to have some girl chat. Eventually, her husband joins us and we order some breakfast. They have a “formule” breakfast deal – one entrée with juice and a hot drink. I get the vegetarian full English with orange juice and a flat white. It’s two poached eggs with toast, grilled tomatoes, sauteed mushrooms and spinach, and avocado. I am so thankful for vegetables. We chat for a while about life – I haven’t seen R and her husband since 2015. She is now working at the university where we got our MAs (she also did her PhD). She is very surprised I’m in tech now. The baby starts to get wiggly and we decide it’s probably time to get him outside. R treats and we head out.
12:15 p.m. – We decide to walk around Richmond Park because somehow I never made it out here in all my time in London. This park is seriously gorgeous! It runs along the river and has a wide path that people are walking and biking on. There are also lots of boats in the water, boats for punting (a classic British tradition) and houseboats. Highly recommend a visit. We walk along the path for a while and then walk up the hill – R says the view is amazing. We huff and puff to the top and it is worth it! The view is incredible! It has been a really lovely visit, but R and her family have to head off to a birthday party. We say our goodbyes and part ways, but not before finally getting some smiles from the baby! I win!
1:00 p.m. – I walk back down the high street to get to the bus back to the guest house. I talk to my mum along the way, though the reception is not good. It’s great to hear her voice, though! I promise to call her on my drive home from the airport tomorrow. I find a Marks & Spencer on my walk to the bus stop and decide to go ahead and pick up treats for coworkers. They’ve got their brand of jaffa cakes in two packs for 1.5 GBP ($2.05) so I pick up 2 two packs, a 1.5 liter fizzy water, and some gum for the plane. $6.23
1:30 p.m. – I get on the bus and try to read, but I quickly start to feel motion sickness (or the effects of no sleep?) I open the fizzy water, which is hard because it’s massive and the bus is crowded. It does make me feel better. I get off at the last stop and walk back to the guesthouse. I grab my bag, and walk about 10 minutes over to the bus stop that will take me to my hotel by the airport.
3:00 p.m. – I check in to my hotel and see I have an email from my friend C from my MA program. She and her family have just returned from their weekend excursion and she’d love to see me if I’m still around. I make a plan with her to meet her at her house, which is ages away, but it means I can meet her daughter, which is important to me. I get to work charging my various devices and attempting to repack my bag a bit.
4:00 p.m. – I set off for C’s. It’s going to take me at least an hour and a half to get there. First, I take a bus from my hotel to the Hounslow train station. This was a mistake. I have ridden hundreds of London buses and 99% of the time they are fine – everyone keeps to themselves and you’re all just cogs in the wheels of London. But about halfway through this ride some men get on and are shouting at someone else on the bus like they’re about to fight and I start to feel unsafe. I take stock of who’s around me and try to figure out the earliest point I can get off the bus. Thankfully, my stop is about 5 stops away, so I’m only on the bus for another 10 minutes before getting off. I take a train to another train to a bus and then I’m in Dulwich!
5:45 p.m. – I knock on C’s door and her husband A answers! It’s good to see him – he’s a gem. I get to play with their daughter for a while (who likes me a lot more than R’s son) and then A puts her down for the evening. I hang out with C and A for a while and catch up on life – our families, work, travels, and most importantly books we’re reading. It’s very relaxing.
8:00 p.m. – I get a text from my former manager J that he and his travel buddy are going to be in the Kings Cross area for drinks, so I bid C and A farewell and catch a bus up to Kings Cross. We go to a little underground cocktail bar between Kings Cross and Russell Sq. called the New Bloomsbury Set. It’s very Instagrammable. I get a single shot G&T and a fizzy water. The G&T helps, actually. We catch up on life and I meet his travel buddy, who apparently lives around the corner from me in Philly. Small world! $11.96
10:45 p.m. – I say goodbye to them and head down to the Tube. I get on a train headed to Heathrow and read my book. Technically, I could get off at a tube stop in Hounslow and take a bus to my hotel, but after the bus this afternoon, I’m not that keen on taking a late night bus through Hounslow. I take the tube all the way to Heathrow and go up through the terminal. I head over to the taxi stand and get a black cab to my hotel. The drive is about 10 minutes, and black cabs are expensive, but they are the safest type of cabs to take in London. Cabbies have to study for years and take this really insane exam called The Knowledge to get a license, so they’re very well respected. My cabbie is super friendly and really makes the ride enjoyable! I get out at my hotel and give him 17 pounds (14 gbp fare + tip). $23.30
12:00 a.m. – I get to my room, shower, and pack everything but the essentials for tomorrow into my bag. I’m absolutely dead. I set a timer on the TV in the room to come on at 6am and then fall asleep.
Daily Total: $49.71

Day Twelve

6:00 a.m. – The TV wakes me up! I grab my phone and watch London news for a few minutes while scrolling through my phone.
7:00 a.m. – I’m all packed up, key in hand, and I head down for breakfast. Breakfast was included in the price of this room, so I load up on bacon, sausage, eggs, beans, and fruit. I read my book while I eat.
7:45 a.m.– I check out and get the airport bus out in front of my hotel. It’s a flat 5 gbp to ride and it goes to all the terminals. $6.85
9:00 a.m. – I’m through security and in the terminal. I stop at Duty Free to buy favorites I can’t get at home. One of those favorites is Sipsmith gin, but it seems they aren’t selling the regular version, just the lemon flavor and the Sloe gin. Boo. So I head over to the candy aisle. I buy a big bag of Quality Street (a type of mixed chocolate box that is so good), some Fortnum & Mason chamomile tea for my mum, and a box of chocolate roses for my friend D who checked in on my house while I was away. ($24.75) Then I go to the WH Smith to maybe grab a sandwich. They don’t look great, so I pick up a couple bags of chips, a fizzy water, some champagne chocolate truffles for my friend J who also checked on my house when D couldn’t get there, and a sampler of Green & Blacks dark chocolates for my mum. ($16.44) When I’m done, I see they’ve announced my gate so I head to the loo, then to the gate. I manage to get them to gate check my rolling suitcase for free again (score!) and board the plane. $41.19
12:30p.m. (EDT) – We land! The flight was fine – I watched You’ve Got Mail, which has to be one of my favorite movies of all time. I slept for about an hour. The food was much better on this flight than the previous one – we got pretzels, a lunch of chicken with roasted veggies with a yummy cookie, and chocolate ice cream! Now I get to wait in line at passport control...
1:30 p.m. – I make it to the Newark Liberty train station with about 10 minutes to spare before the next train. I buy my ticket and wait. And wait. And wait. I check Twitter. Apparently there’s a BRUSHFIRE at the station and so the trains are being held until it’s cleared. I see firemen. This whole situation feels surreal on this little sleep. $12.00
2:45 p.m. – I make it to Metropark and pay my parking fare. I get all my stuff in the car, get my GPS set on my phone and head out. Once I’m on 95, I call my mum and we chat the whole way home to Philadelphia.
4:30 p.m.– I pull up in front of my house and tell my mum I’m going to do some cleaning before I go pick up the kitties. I get my stuff in the house and take a look around before deciding I need to see the kitties ASAP. I drive to the vet and pay my bill. The vet and other staff come out to tell me what a joy they were and that they let them roam the front office during downtimes, which makes me feel a lot better. My cats are super social and want to be around people all the time, so I’m glad they weren’t stuck in cages the whole time. My poopy one has clearly had a few baths, too, and she very sleek and shiny. We head home for cuddles on the couch. I stick all of my clothes in a laundry hamper and get started on getting everything washed.
7:00 p.m. – I order sushi because I’m too exhausted to go grocery shopping and cook. I eat it while watching Jeopardy. I make it until about 8 p.m. before falling asleep on the couch. I’m awake enough to set a 10 p.m. alarm on my phone so I’ll actually get a full night’s sleep in my bed. $18.00
10:00 p.m. – The alarm goes off and I double check the door is locked and grab some water before heading up the stairs to my sweet, sweet comfortable bed.
How did you prepare for this trip?
I know London pretty well from having lived there and I think many of the best tourist sites are famous enough that many people have heard of them. I do recommend Airbnb for non-hotel accommodation. This is my second trip using an Airbnb and they’ve been really great. My friend L found the guest house in Hounslow and we all just booked our own rooms.
What was your favorite part of the trip?
The Churchill Cabinet War Rooms was truly a fantastic museum. I’d never been before and it was really engaging. If you’ve seen any of the recent British–focused WWII movies or TV shows (Dunkirk, The Darkest Hour, The Crown) or otherwise enjoy the history of that era, you’ll find the whole thing really fascinating.
What was the best meal or food you ate while you were there?
Sunday roast is always incredible. It’s a meal I try to get every time I’m there – I love Yorkshire pudding, and it’s just such a quintessential British meal. Don’t sleep on the Asian and south Asian food in London, but also make sure you get a roast.
What advice would you give someone who is traveling to the same location?
Take the bus or walk! I think the tube can be a really fast way to get longer distances, but if you’re in the very heart of central London, it really doesn’t take that long to walk places, and you’ll get to see so much more!
Would you stay at your hotel/airbnb again?
I would use Airbnb again in a heartbeat and ours this trip was perfect for what we needed. I would stay in a different hotel by the airport. The one I stayed in has a sister hotel with a similar name that’s nicer that I thought I was booking. Oops.
Where were you located in the specific city and would you recommend staying in that part of town?
I would recommend staying in the Vauxhall area, or other parts of South London that are near Tube stations. Vauxhall is great because you can walk so many places, but obviously sometimes you do need the Tube.
Is there anything you wished you had time to do, but didn’t?
I probably would have spent some time in museums. I didn’t go to a single one this trip and London has some of the best.
Do you feel like you were there for the right length of time? Would you have come home sooner or stayed longer given the chance?
I think I would have only stayed 7 days if I didn’t have a reason to be there both weekends. Listen – London is expensive. There’s so much to see but unless you are leaving the city for parts of your trip, it gets very expensive to stay there for too long.
Travel Diaries is meant to reflect individual women's experiences and does not necessarily reflect Refinery29's point of view. Refinery29 in no way encourages illegal activity or harmful behavior.
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